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Lumines Electronic Symphony is another iteration of the popular puzzle game developed by Q Entertainment exclusively for the PlayStation Vita.
Over the years Lumines has been released on a whole host of different platforms, from the PC and Playstation 2 to Xbox Live Arcade. If you’ve played any of the previous titles then you’ll know what to expect here, as the addictive puzzle-based gameplay remains fundamentally unchanged.
The goal behind the game is to match different coloured blocks, it is effectively an enhanced version of Tetris, but different levels tweak the gameplay slightly (such as the pace at which the blocks fall), in order to keep things fresh. One of the new additions is the frustrating Shuffle block, that swoops in and rearranges the layout of the grid, forcing you to adapt quickly in order to survive.
I didn’t expect the visuals in a puzzle game to be particularly strong, but I was pleasantly surprised. The different level skins all look very impressive on the Vita, and the bright neon colours move fluidly across the screen, really adding to the game’s sense of pace. As you progress through the game you earn experience points, and with these experience points you can unlock new skins and other features, so if you want to experience everything that Electronic Symphony has to offer, be prepared to put aside some serious gaming time.
One of the strongest elements of the game is the soundtrack, and it features a host of well known names including LCD Soundsystem and The Chemical Brothers. The music really adds to the atmosphere, and fits well with the fast paced nature of the gameplay. Following my previous experiences with handheld systems, I had expected the audio to be poor quality and tinny, but I was pleasantly surprised. As a huge fan of electronic music this was one of the major highlights for me.
I was quite disappointed that the game doesn’t make as much use of the PlayStation Vita’s features as it could have done. The player is given the option of rotating the coloured blocks using the touch screen instead of the directional pad, but this feels like a tacked-on extra, and you get the sense that Electronic Symphony wasn’t built from the ground up with the PlayStation Vita in mind.
Like all other PlayStation Vita titles, the game can be purchased and downloaded via the PlayStation Store, eliminating the need for a physical copy of the game.
Despite having no online multiplayer, there are a number of ways to interact with your friends with Lumines Electronic Symphony. The game features online leaderboards to compare scores and win bragging rights, and the competitive Duel mode allows two players to link up their Vita consoles locally and battle against each other.
Many of the previous games in the series retailed as downloadable-only titles, and as a result they were much cheaper than the launch price of £30 - £40 that was commanded by Electronic Symphony. While I did enjoy the game, I do not feel that it offers enough new content to be able to charge such an inflated price. Luckily, you can now pick up the game for as little as £15, and at that price it is more in line with the other titles in the series, and definitely offers value for money as a result.
If you have played a Lumines game before, then you won’t miss out on too much by skipping this iteration of the series. That said, the game still has plenty to offer, and as it can be picked up online for as little as £15 as the moment, there has never been a better time to enjoy some block-based puzzle gameplay.